Czech-Polish gas link Stork II misses EU funding deadline

By bne IntelliNews November 28, 2016

The Stork II gas pipeline, a priority EU project linking Poland and the Czech Republic, faces prolonged challenges, reports claimed on November 25.

The interconnector between the two countries hit the headlines in September, as Prague claimed Warsaw was seeking to pull out of the scheme, which would link the two countries’ gas networks as part of Brussels’ push to integrate systems across the bloc more deeply. Stork II is estimated to cost about €400mn, with nearly €63mn earmarked for the project by the European Commission under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) programme. 

The EU has remained keen to help the pair overcome their problems, which are focused on Czechia’s support for Nord Stream II, a planned project to boost Russian gas exports to Germany and on into Central Europe. Czechia would play a role in distributing any gas flows from the expanded route.Warsaw fears that should Stork II carry Russian gas into Poland it would be a setback for Polish plans to diversify imports.

After missing the first call for proposals for funding under CEF for this year in April, the project developers of Stork II missed the second on November 8, reports Interfax. Why that deadline was missed is unclear. Both the Czech and Polish transmission system operators claim the project is not in jeopardy.

The application was not submitted because of "regulatory difficulties on the Net4Gas side", a spokesman from Poland’s Gaz-System claims. He says his company remains keen. A representative of Czech TSO Net4Gas appeared to agree that the delay was pushed by her side, broadly, but also laid the blame at the Polish company’s door.

"It was purposed by our Polish partner to postpone the implementation of the project to at least to 2020, and that is why we need to carefully analyse all implications of this new situation," she said. Gaz-System and Net4Gas signed a memorandum in September that put completion of Stork II back by two years to 2020.

The 107km route is planned to have a capacity to carry 6.5bn cubic metres of gas to Poland and 5bn cm in the opposite direction. The Czech Republic speculated in September that Poland would rather see Stork II not completed. However, Warsaw rejected the claim. A European Commission spokesperson said at the time that Brussels understood the situation, illustrating the bloc’s enthusiasm to see the link built.

Since the nationalist PiS took power in Poland around a year ago, Warsaw has been accused of playing hardball on more than one EU-backed energy infrastructure project. Also in September, Lithuania delayed the GIPL pipeline, which would link to Poland, and therefore connect the isolated Baltic region’s network with that of the EU. The announcement from Vilnius came after Poland altered the route of the pipeline within its borders. It is not clear if GIPL will now need to re-submit an application to the EU for funding.

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